Financial Tips for High School Graduates Headed to College

by Hope Roush, OVB Financial Literacy Leader

studentwalkingThe hard work finally pays off and just like that high school is over. For many recent high school graduates the next step leads to college, which can be both exciting and scary.

A good way to get the college journey off on the right foot is to be financially prepared. One of the first steps a new college student can take is to open a checking account. Many banks offer student accounts. For example, at Ohio Valley Bank customers’ ages 16-25 can take advantage of Right Start Checking. With this account there is no monthly service fee, which is very helpful to college students. Through Right Start Checking, customers also have access to eDelivery statements as well as free online and mobile banking. A checking account helps with budgeting and managing money as well.

In fact, creating a budget or spending plan is another first step new college freshmen can take to ensure financial stability. A college student’s budget doesn’t need to be overly complicated. A simple budget outlining how much money you receive and what your expected expenses are each month is a good way to start. Adding an allowance for extra activities, like special events, games and concerts, is another useful thing to include in the budget. By adding this allowance it can help college students manage their spending money better by preventing circumstances, such as running out of money for necessary items, like food and textbooks.

Other helpful financial tips for new college students include:

  1. Be careful with ATMs that are not affiliated with your financial institution. Often ATM machines charge an additional service fee for people who do not have accounts with the machine’s bank. A good way to avoid this is to take advantage of ATMs marked with your bank’s name or use cash back opportunities when using your debit cards at stores that offer this service, such as Walmart.
  2. Take advantage of online banking. For college students online banking is the perfect way to keep track of their finances. Many banks, including OVB, also offer mobile deposit, where you can deposit a check using your smart phone from the comfort of your dorm room!
  3. Use credit wisely. The important thing to keep in mind is that a credit card doesn’t mean “free money.” If you feel comfortable using a credit card with your current budget, it’s a good idea to start with one that has a smaller limit. Try to pay the credit card balance monthly. Only use the card when you know you will have funds available to pay the balance. Check out things such as the card’s annual percentage rate, annual fee and penalty fees before deciding on the right card for you.
  4. Save, save, save! It’s especially important for college students to save money as many have limited funds in the first place. Also, starting to save in your late teens and early twenties can help you start off on a better financial foot after college.
  5. Look for ways to spend less on textbooks. Most universities require students to purchase their own textbooks, which are often quite expensive. Take advantage of used book options at the college bookstore to help with costs. Also, retailers such as Amazon.com, usually offer reduced prices on textbooks.
  6. Limit off campus dining. While it may be tempting to go to restaurants all the time or order pizza with roommates, these habits can result in college students running out of money fast. Instead, be sure to utilize the college’s meal plan as much as possible and stick to dining out once a week.
  7. Use student discounts when the opportunity is available. Many nearby businesses, including restaurants, often offer student discounts for college students. This a great way to save money and spend less!
  8. Consider taking a part-time job to earn extra spending money. If your class schedule allows it, a part-time job is a good way to help earn and save money. Many colleges even offer work study programs on campus.

While starting college and leaving the comforts of high school and home is tough, it doesn’t have to be. Proper planning and money management can go a long way to ensure both college and post-graduate success!

About Ohio Valley Bank
Ohio Valley Bank, established in 1872, currently serves personal and business customers from 15 offices throughout Ohio and West Virginia. The Bank's headquarters are located at 420 Third Avenue in historic Gallipolis, Ohio. The company has never changed names, making it one of the oldest banks in the state. Member FDIC | Equal Housing Lender

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